Historian Richard Norton Smith on the Churchill statue at the British Embassy in Washington
Historian Richard Norton Smith talks about the Winston Churchill statue on the grounds of the British Embassy in Washington, DC. Sculpted by William McVey, the statue has one foot on British soil, the other on American, symbolizing Churchill's honorary United States citizenship, and the ties between the two nations.
With Colin Firth playing a royal with a stutter, The King's Speech is certain for Oscar magic, but Andrew Roberts says it gets the story all wrong and is simply bad history.
By Andrew Roberts
THE DAILY BEAST, January 2011 - The buzzy new movie, The King's Speech, is an affectionate portrait of Queen Elizabeth II's parents, Bertie, the Duke of York (later King George VI) and Elizabeth the Duchess of York (later the Queen Mother), told through the prism of the King's overcoming of his stammer. Starring Colin Firth as the king, Helena Bonham Carter as the queen, and Geoffrey Rush as the king's Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, it also boasts a cast that includes Derek Jacobi, Michael Gambon, Timothy Spall, and Anthony Andrews. Yet before it is accepted as an accurate historical record of what happened to the Royal Family between 1925 and 1939, viewers should know of the very many glaring and egregious inaccuracies and tired old myths that this otherwise charming film unquestioningly regurgitates.
Of course Hollywood has long played fast and loose with history. As the clerihew goes:
Cecil B. de Mille Rather against his will Was persuaded to leave Moses Out of The Wars of the Roses.
But at a moment when, as a result of Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton, many eyes will be turned onto the House of Windsor, it is as well to explode a few legends about the Prince's great-grandfather, George VI, the monarch who saw Britain through the Second World War. The first is the simple one that his stutter wasn't anything like as bad as the film depicts. In fact, it was relatively mild, and when he was concentrating hard on what he was saying it disappeared altogether. His speech to the Australian parliament in Canberra in 1927 was delivered without stuttering, for example. Yet in the movie it is so chronic that Colin Firth can hardly say a sentence without prolonged stuttering, right the way up to the outbreak of war in 1939. Of course, the whole premise of the movie is based on Logue's cure, but recordings of the Duke of York before he even met Logue make it clear that his problem was nothing like so acute as this film makes out.
Revamp for Locomotive that had Role in Churchill's Sad Last Journey
By Paul Jeeves
THE YORKSHIRE POST, 31 January 2011 - His reputation as one of Britain's greatest ever Prime Ministers still holds true today decades after he led the country to victory against the Nazi threat.
Winston Churchill's death was marked with a state funeral, and millions of television viewers tuned in to see his final journey from Waterloo to Hanborough before being laid to rest on January 30, 1965.
The locomotive that hauled Churchill's funeral train is now due to undergo a major restoration to mark the 50th anniversary of his death in 2015. The Friends of the National Railway Museum (NRM) have launched a fundraising campaign for the revamp of British Railways No. 3405, which is named after Churchill and is on display at the York museum.
It is hoped that £35,000 will be raised by the end of 2011, and fundraising events are being held nationally including a gala dinner at the NRM on April 9. James Lester, who was the fireman on Churchill's funeral train, will be a special guest.
He said: "The steam days were always special to me, and my journey on the funeral train stands out in particular. My memories remain with me today and I am giving the proposed restoration of Winston Churchill to its former glory my full support."
Tickets for the dinner cost £55 or £500 for a table of 10. For more details email
or call 01904 636874.
THE NEW CRITERION, January 2011 - If I am pessimistic about the future of liberty, it is because I am pessimistic about the strength of the English-speaking nations, which have, in profound ways, surrendered to forces at odds with their inheritance. "Declinism" is in the air, but some of us apocalyptic types are way beyond that. The United States is facing nothing so amiable and genteel as Continental-style "decline," but something more like sliding off a cliff.
In the days when I used to write for Fleet Street, a lot of readers and several of my editors accused me of being anti-British. I'm not. I'm extremely pro-British and, for that very reason, the present state of the United Kingdom is bound to cause distress. So, before I get to the bad stuff, let me just lay out the good. Insofar as the world functions at all, it's due to the Britannic inheritance. Three-sevenths of the G7 economies are nations of British descent. Two-fifths of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are-and, by the way, it should be three-fifths: The rap against the Security Council is that it's the Second World War victory parade preserved in aspic, but, if it were, Canada would have a greater claim to be there than either France or China. The reason Canada isn't is because a third Anglosphere nation and a second realm of King George VI would have made too obvious a truth usually left unstated-that the Anglosphere was the all but lone defender of civilization and of liberty. In broader geopolitical terms, the key regional powers in almost every corner of the globe are British-derived-from Australia to South Africa to India-and, even among the lesser players, as a general rule you're better off for having been exposed to British rule than not: Why is Haiti Haiti and Barbados Barbados?
And of course the pre-eminent power of the age derives its political character from eighteenth-century British subjects who took English ideas a little further than the mother country was willing to go. In his sequel to Churchill's great work, The History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Andrew Roberts writes:
Just as we do not today differentiate between the Roman Republic and the imperial period of the Julio-Claudians when we think of the Roman Empire, so in the future no-one will bother to make a distinction between the British Empire-led and the American Republic-led periods of English-speaking dominance between the late-eighteenth and the twenty-first centuries. It will be recognized that in the majestic sweep of history they had so much in common-and enough that separated them from everyone else-that they ought to be regarded as a single historical entity, which only scholars and pedants will try to describe separately.
If you step back for a moment, this seems obvious. There is a distinction between the "English-speaking peoples" and the rest of "the West," and at key moments in human history that distinction has proved critical.
Continental Europe has given us plenty of nice paintings and agreeable symphonies, French wine and Italian actresses and whatnot, but, for all our fetishization of multiculturalism, you can't help noticing that when it comes to the notion of a political West-one with a sustained commitment to liberty and democracy-the historical record looks a lot more unicultural and, indeed (given that most of these liberal democracies other than America share the same head of state), uniregal. The entire political class of Portugal, Spain, and Greece spent their childhoods living under dictatorships. So did Jacques Chirac and Angela Merkel. We forget how rare on this earth is peaceful constitutional evolution, and rarer still outside the Anglosphere.
A thoughtful if depressing article mentioning Churchill several times, eminently forwardable, with hardly any exclamation marks. One correction: it was Acheson not Dulles who said Britain had lost an empire and not found a role. -Editor, Finest Hour
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 January 2011 11:24
How War Sapped Winston Churchill's Bulldog Spirit
THE toll of World War II on Winston Churchill's health has been revealed in notes compiled by the former British prime minister's physician.
THE AUSTRALIAN, 17 January 2011 - The previously confidential records show a leader whose work deteriorated and whose character suffered because of years of stress that left him with "an intolerance of criticism and bad temper".
Churchill's decline was exacerbated because he "never nursed his physique" and failed to "listen to advice", according to Charles Moran, his doctor for 25 years.
Historians believe a fitter Churchill might arguably have been able to stand up more persuasively to Josef Stalin, the Soviet leader, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, the US president, on the future of Europe after the war -- by keeping Poland free of Soviet domination, for example.
A fitter man might also have had the strength to win the 1945 general election against Labour.
Moran's handwritten medical notes on Churchill are being released under data protection law after 60 years. They follow the publication of the physician's memoirs in 1966, for which Moran was criticised for breaching patient confidentiality. The new records show he had been relatively discreet in his memoirs.
Moran's notes cast fresh light on Churchill's mental wellbeing after the battles to convince the government of the threat posed by Adolf Hitler and then five years of war. Observing that Churchill's "work suffers" and his "character suffers", Moran asks: "Did his character change or did war only exaggerate (it)?"
The doctor states: "Work begins (to) deteriorate." He saw him as "always wilful, opinionated, undisciplined", adding: "When home not working, he would spend half the night talking, smoking and drinking."
On May 17, 1945, Moran writes: "(Churchill) looked very tired. He told me that he had hardly ever worked so hard. He has been keeping shocking hours . . . going to bed at 3, 4 or 5am . . . I told him he was racing the engine and that couldn't go on."
Good grief! This is deja vue all over again. Moran made his point decades ago. Some were offended (they put together a book of essays), some agreed, and some were skeptical. Put me in the last category. Our boy was tired, perhaps even enervated, but he never ever lost his "bulldog!" FDR had ambushed him at Teheran (right or wrong is a much different issue), and Churchill was, I assume, depressed at Yalta over Britain's lack of leverage. But it is simply stupid and uninformed for any historian to argue as this one does:
"Historian Thomas Weber said Churchill's deterioration 'might well have affected how he conducted the war in its final stages and how he furthered British interests'. He said it raised the question whether, with Britain's weak economic state in 1945 and Roosevelt sick, a 'cold-blooded' Churchill in vigorous health at Yalta might have dealt more effectively with Stalin. 'A man less exhausted . . . might less easily be deluded by Stalin,' he said.
Rubbish. Churchill was not "deluded" by Stalin, any more than was FDR. They may have drawn incorrect conclusions, but "deluded," as in some clever ploy, hardly. The writer is the deluded one -- or seeking 15 minutes of fame. Churchill soon changed his tune (unproductively, I believe), but the notion that he was so depressed and tired as to be ineffective is . . . . . ineffective.
-Prof. Warren F. Kimball
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 January 2011 10:55
Theatrical Release of "Walking with Destiny"
The newly released film "Walking with Destiny" is now showing in locations across the country.
Narrated by Academy AwardTM - winner, Sir Ben Kingsley, Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny recounts Churchill's years in the political wilderness, his early opposition to Adolf Hitler and Nazism, and his support for Jews under threat by the Nazi regime. The film also focuses on his return to government by the demand of the British people and his rise to the Prime Minister's office in 1940.
For the most up to date schedule, see Moriah Films Facebook page here. Keep checking back as there are more cities still being added.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:01
Churchill Art on Display in Central Missouri College
by JESSICA MACHETTA in Education, Human Interest
MISSOURINET, January 3, 2011 - "Winston on Westminster's Campus" places more of the National Churchill Museum's collection into public view at the Central Missouri College.
Winston Churchill was a leader, a diplomat, a writer, and yes, an artist. In addition to some of the popular iconic photographs of Churchill - such as the one of him throwing the "V" for "Victory" sign - some less known photos of him are on display at Westminster College in Fulton. Curator Liz Murphy says one of her favorites is a photo of him helping judge a goat show.
Reproductions of three of Churchill's paintings are also on display. Murphy says this exhibition will lead to more art and student involvement in the future.
Murphy says the project allows the Museum to display some of its pieces from behind the scenes, and using Westminster College as the exhibition space is a way for both institutions to showcase their relationship with one another.
Churchill painted and drew dozens of pieces of art in the early 1900s. Viewers can see reproductions of "Bottlescape," "Palladian Bridge," and "Cork Trees at Mimizan." There are two originals at the museum.
The exhibition is on display through December of 2011.
The public in invited to view the works, which are scattered throughout campus, which was made possible through a grant from the Helen S. Boylan Foundation.
The new pieces, part of the National Churchill Museum collection, are located in Reeves Library, Coulter Science Center, Newnham Hall and Westminster Hall.
The Reeves Library display includes a watercolor of the interior of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, a watercolor of the Shakespeare Monument and Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury and a bronze bust of Sir Winston Churchill.
Historic Church in Fulton Rings Bells to Remember WWII Attack
By Samantha McClendon
FULTON - The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury rang its bells Wednesday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the largest German air raid of WWII. The bells rang at the exact moment as those in St. Paul's Cathedral in London. The church in Fulton used to stand in London, but after the Nazi Blitz, it was dissembled block-by-block and re-erected in Fulton.
As the bells rang, a survivor of the attack that happened 70 years ago recalled what it was like. "When the bombs were dropped every night, it was terrifying and a lot of people were killed," said Rhona Havers "We were lucky because we were in protection of the army."
Havers said this day and the anniversary are important to remember. She was working for the British Council at the time and she was evacuated at the time of the Blitz. Her son, Dr. Rob Havers, is the executive director of the famous church from London, and the Winston Churchill Museum. He said when they were contacted to ring the bells, they were happy to do it.
"We contacted by a group of firemen who were marking this day there," said Dr. Havers.
Fulton firemen placed a wreath on the doorstep of the church at the same time as London firefighters laid a wreath at St. Paul's in London.
"It was very sad and I think more people should commemorate today because if anything else would have happened, America and other parts of the world would have been involved as well," said Rhona Havers.
The church itself was built in 1181 but was rebuilt in 1677 after the Great London Fire. The next major event at the church will in March to recall Winston Churchill's famous Iron Curtain Speech 65 years ago.
What might we learn by comparing the near reverence with which Churchill treated intelligence information—his "Golden Eggs," he often called it-compared to our modern, lackadaisical approach to it? Why, for example, aren't more of today's leaders calling for WikiLeaks to be prosecuted for posting secret documents on the Iraqi and Afghan wars for the whole world, including the enemy, to peruse? What would Churchill think about that? Finest Hour invited David Freeman, Professor of History at the University of California Fullerton, who has the critical faculty and historical perspective to consider that question. He offers herein a reminder that Churchill had actually faced something similar in his own time.
-Richard M. Langworth, Editor Finest Hour
In the summer of 2010 the alleged non-profit website WikiLeaks published 77,000 classified documents snatched from Pentagon computers that related to the war in Afghanistan. Unredacted, the material included the names of Afghan informants that had been cooperating with Coalition Forces. A Taliban spokesman told The New York Times that a commission had been formed "to find out about people who are spying" and report the results to a Taliban court.1
The founder and proprietor of WikiLeaks, 39-year-old Australian Julian Assange, remained defiant about his decision to publish the documents even as Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders join the Pentagon (an unusual combination) in criticizing an action that potentially endangers those Afghans whose names were published.
Inside the mind and worldview of the man who saved Britain.
By Michael Makovsky
THE NEW REPUBLIC, December 8, 2010 -Seventy years ago, in the summer and fall of 1940, Western civilization teetered in the balance as Britain stood alone against Nazi-controlled Europe. Other major world powers did not lend aid; Russia supported Germany, and the United States remained neutral. After Britain resisted the assault of Nazi bombers, in what was dubbed the "Battle of Britain," the country was saved and German momentum stymied. The whole course of the war then radically shifted. Germany turned east and attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941 and then declared war on the United States in December 1941, sealing its ultimate defeat.
It was Winston Churchill who, upon becoming prime minister in May 1940, fortified the British people against the German assault. Churchill's role has become the stuff of legend. Less well understood is how he came to lead his nation at that crucial moment. For decades, his judgment, integrity, and credibility had been questioned, if not disdained. But it was the very essence of his character-his eclectic but distinctive worldview and his dedication to the advance of civilization-along with his ample rhetorical and leadership skills, that led him to shape history at such a pivotal moment.
Although Churchill is perceived by Americans as a man of great principles and constancy, many in England claimed that he was quite the opposite-mercurial, devoid of a core character, a political opportunist with poor judgment. As one journalist wrote in 1916, "It is the ultimate Churchill that escapes us"; he was a "soldier of fortune" who "loves the fight more than the cause." Churchill fed that perception with his frequent political shifting: switching from the Conservatives to the Liberals in 1904 and then back to the Conservatives for good in 1924. The Socialist dramatist George Bernard Shaw once wrote Churchill about the opposition of the unimaginative reactionaries: "You [are] a phenomenon that the Blimps and Philistines and Stick-in-the-muds have never understood and always dreaded."
100 Year Anniversary of the Siege of Sidney Street
By Sanchia Berg Today Programme
BBC NEWS, December 2010 - A hundred years on, the Siege of Sidney Street still resonates. The third of January 1911 was the day two Latvian anarchists held out in an East End tenement for seven hours against more than 200 armed police and a detachment of soldiers.
The might of the Empire turned against two desperate young Jewish men in an ordinary street. Thousands of Londoners came to watch. Winston Churchill, Home Secretary was at the scene too, in his distinctive Astrakhan collared coat: a stray bullet passed through his top hat.
The drama had really begun three weeks before, on December 16 1910, which is why the Museum of London Docklands opens its Sidney Street exhibition this week. A gang of Latvian revolutionaries tried to rob a jeweller's shop in Houndsditch.
It was one of a series of "expropriations" to raise funds for propaganda and help their fellow activists in Russia and Latvia.
They'd planned this carefully: renting rooms in the building which backed onto the rear of the shop. In the Museum of London is a 60 foot length of India rubber gas hose, bought by the would be burglars so they could use gas from their own building to burn through the jeweller's safe.
View the Siege of Sidney Street in picture at The Independent here.
You can also find an article on this topic from Finest Hour 43 here.
The Docklands 24 just opened an exhibit entitled Why Churchill stopped fire rescue in Siege of Sidney St. You can find more information here.
Last Updated on Monday, 03 January 2011 19:20
Churchill's Favorite Champagne: Pol Roger
Britain's wartime prime minister was such a fan that Champagne maker Pol Roger named its prestige cuvée after him, Cuvée Winston Churchill
By Nick Passmore
The Champagne region abounds with stories of remarkable, sometimes even beautiful, women, such as Nicole-Barbe Clicquot, Madame Jeanne Alexandrine Louise Pommery, and Lily Bollinger, to name a few. One of the most remarkable and most beautiful of them all was Odette Pol-Roger, whose husband ran the champagne house of the same name. Since the 1980s, though, the name Pol Roger (pronounced poll rojey) has been associated with an even larger larger-than-life icon: Winston Churchill.
Pol Roger had been Churchill's favorite champagne from the 1920s, so when he attended a lunch at the recently reopened British Embassy in Paris in November 1944, the ambassador, Duff Cooper, who knew Churchill enjoyed the company of beautiful women at least as much as he enjoyed champagne, seated Odette next to him.
The attraction was immediate, and their enthusiastic if entirely innocent friendship lasted until Churchill's death in 1965. Such a fervent admirer was Churchill of both Odette and her champagne that he named one of his race horses Pol Roger. She returned the compliment in 1984 by naming her house's new prestige champagne Cuvée Winston Churchill.
INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE, 19 November 2010 - Sir Winston Churchill spent a disturbed night last night [Nov. 17]. But those who went to see the former Prime Minister, who broke a small bone in his back in a fall late Tuesday night, reported that he is cheerful - although a bit bored at being kept in bed. A medical bulletin issued at 12.40 p.m. said: "Sir Winston Churchill has had a rather disturbed night, but his spinal injury is progressing satisfactorily and is giving no anxiety." The "small bone" doctors reported as being broken has not been identified. Among those who visited Sir Winston today was his daughter, Mrs. Christopher Soames. "Sir Winston," she said, "is bored by being in bed and his back is a little painful. But he seemed fine and in good spirits and there is no cause for worry." Mrs. Soames, wife of the Minister of Agriculture, also said he probably had one of his cigars after lunch.
THIS IS BRISTOL, Monday 8, November - BY the autumn of 1940 Herman Goering had moved the bulk of his Luftwaffe bombers away from the RAF and industrial targets and directed them towards the populace.
London was badly hit, soon to be followed by provincial cities such as Coventry. Great efforts were made to minimise the effectiveness of these raids.
One War Office plan, personally approved by PM Winston Churchill, was to construct "decoy towns" to lure the night time bombers away from built up areas and towards the countryside where less damage would be inflicted.
Every major conurbation in the country was provided with decoy facilities of varying degrees.
In the early 1940s the navigation of aircraft by night was both difficult and hazardous.
RAF pilots from those days will tell you that missing a target by miles was not unusual.
If enemy aircrews couldn't obtain visual information from the ground then the further from home they flew then the more inaccurate their navigation was likely to be.
This was the reason for the much regimented "Blackout"
The aim of decoy towns was to convince the enemy aircrews that they had found their target and could release their deadly payload.
The bombs would rain down - but instead of exploding among houses, factories and shipping they would bury themselves deep in the earth.
Morocco's Historic La Mamounia Hotel Reopens in Marrakech After 3-Year Makeover
By Alfred De Montesquiou
CANADIAN PRESS (CP), Nov 4, 2010 - MARRAKECH, Morocco, Winston Churchill invited Franklin Delano Roosevelt here to relax after strategic talks during the Second World War, and Alfred Hitchcock shot some of "The Man Who Knew Too Much" in the hotel's lobby, which also has been a haunt of the Rolling Stones, Charlie Chaplin, Sharon Stone and many other Hollywood stars for nearly a century.
Now, after a three-year, $176-million makeover, the Mamounia is open again for business in the oasis gardens of Marrakech in southern Morocco.
A top interior designer has refurbished its rooms in Art Deco and Arabo-Andalusian styles, star-studded chefs have opened restaurants and a sprawling spa has been added to the eight-hectare gardens of palm and olive trees to lure again the rich and the famous to this legendary hotel set inside the medieval ramparts of a world heritage site.
"There are only three golden rules about a palace of this standing," says Jacques Garcia, the star French decorator who led restoration efforts: "Elegance, elegance and elegance."
Built in 1923, when Morocco was a French protectorate, the Mamounia merges the sober lines of Art Deco architecture with the intricacies of traditional arabesque decorations. The hotel long has been considered the masterpiece of this fusion of styles, unique to a handful of Moroccan buildings.
Its great marble hall leads to shaded courtyards where the trickle of small fountains echoes amid multicoloured tiling of rare refinement. The pool house copies a 17th-century princely pavilion. Here sculptures in the Moroccan Zellige mosaic style are carved all over the plaster walls, overlooking a 55-square-metre swimming pool filtered with ozone. Colonnades and corridors reminiscent of the Alhambra palace in Spain lead to the Churchill bar, complete with black and white photos of jazzmen, a panther-dotted carpet and red leather seating.